Now that retailers such as Toys 'R Us and Kmart have weighed in on their picks for the hot toys for this Christmas holiday season, it's time for several toy industry trade publications to make their best guesses.
Already, there are several toys that keep turning up on the all the hot lists.
Mattel's Loopz, a musical memory game, has made several lists so far, including Toy Insider's, Kmart's and Toys 'R Us'.
Ed Crotty, co-founder of shopping site Zoolert.com, said Loopz could be the "sleeper hit" of the season "without a doubt."
"It just has that 'it' factor," Crotty said, likening Loopz to the classic electronic memory game Simonthat was popular in the 1980s. The key difference is: Loopz uses motion sensors to tell whether players are keeping up with the lights and music patterns it is creating. The longer a player keeps up with the motion, the faster the action.
But I also think it's good to see which toys the publications highlight that don't make it on the retailers' lists. After all, the retailers' lists sometimes promote toys that they exclusively sell.
The Toy Insider picked several toys from smaller manufacturers that are really interesting.
For toddlers, there's Silverlit Toys' Hide-and-Seek Jojo Interactive Bunny, which plays a high-tech version of hide-and-seek with kids. Toddlers can take Jojo's plastic carrot when they hide and the rabbit uses infrared technology to find it. Jojo also counts and sings as he plays the game.
Toy Insider also picked Innovation First's Hexbug Nano Habitat Set, which is a product I had spotted at Toy Fairearlier this year. The Nano is an insect-like robot that behaves like a real bug and are kind of cute—in a geeky kind of way—and collectable.
Inexpensive, collectible toys still seem to be a big trend. That was a theme last year, with the popularity of Cepia's Zhu Zhu Pets, and it can be seen again with some of the toys that are truly popular like Squinkies from Blip Toys and Lalaloopsy from MGA Entertainment.
Another trend is toys that use high-tech electronics these include items such as Barbie Video Girl, which was on Kmart's list, and Jakks Pacific's Spy NetSecret Mission Video Watch. These toys take advantage of the falling prices for including features such as video cameras.
Both toys hide video cameras in what appear to be traditional toys—inside a Barbie doll or inside what appears to be a watch. The video these cameras take can be uploaded to a computer for editing or, yes, sharing with the rest of the world. (Warning: Parents and siblings everywhere now have another reason to watch what they say and do.)
Toy Insider also picked Plasmart's Perplexus, a 3-D maze puzzle, as one of its hot toys.
Toy Insider President Laurie Schacht said people find the brainteaser irresistible and once they pick it up, it's hard to put down. She said she was surprised by how much people have been blogging and tweeting about the maze game since the publisher gave it to people who attended one of its recent events, and that "buzz-factor" was one of the key reasons it made it on its "Hot 20 Toys" list.
Another common trait among the various toy lists coming out is that many of the products are relatively inexpensive.
Schacht said "price to value" is an important element in the publisher's decision making.
"The economy is still suffering," Schacht said. "People are not spending as much as they did."
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